Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ranch Renovation Update

The first time I saw the ranchburger, it was immaculate, filled with high-style decor. As my husband walked around the patio, sunlight glimmered on the pool: I knew he was a goner. I swallowed and swallowed. My throat clicked as I tried to look beyond the market style umbrella, rattan furniture, and potted urns. All of that prettiness belonged to the owner. And I'll just be honest--I won't be able to recreate it. Me, I like to re-imagine the architecture of a space, but I'm the pits when it comes to decorating.  

My husband smiled up at the house. "It has so many amenities," he said. This was true. The burger ticked off every box on his wish list: man cave, wet bar, pool, pool house, koi pond, garden, and a great view of the mountains. "But what about the windows?" I asked. The sliding casements dated to the 70s. Some windows weren't windows at all--they were sheets of glass that had been fitted into window frames. 
"Oh," my husband said, then shrugged. "I didn't notice."

The idea of replacing all of those windows made me so ill, I sat down on a rattan chase and gulped air. At a previous project, I'd stepped into a rabbit hole when I replaced one window. Windows could be tricky--and expensive. If we bought the ranchburger (and, judging from the blissful look on my husband's face, it looked like we would), we wouldn't be able to replace every freaking window. We'd have to think about it, shop around, and decide which windows should be replaced first. But even if we could replace them, would they make a difference? 
Because things can go awry in a heartbeat. 

The window you saw in the catalog may look different in real life.

Or a window can look good in the catalog and look wonderful in real life.

After we bought the ranchburger, the gorgeous decor was removed, and the house looked pretty much like I'd imagined. A bit tired and seedy, stuck in the 1970s, a house that laughed in my face. "Don't even try to fix me up," it said. "You can't. I am a money pit, the black hole of ranchburgerdom."

Many of the 70s windows were damaged. They needed to be replaced. Even my husband began to have doubts. As buyer's regret took hold, he handed the project over to our GC and an architectural draftsman. They agreed that it was a priority to replace the damaged windows.

And you wouldn't believe the coldness that seeped through the windows-that-weren't-windows.
Here, a basement window was replaced. (The lovely tree will have to be removed, as it's too close to the house. I'll miss it, but there's nothing for it.)

 "New windows will be like putting lipstick on a pig," my husband said. He'd wanted an overhaul--the whole roof raised, along with an addition to the man cave (he had his heart set on a weight room, medical library, and a half bath), but our GC talked him out of it. 

When you renovate an older home, it's wise to expect the unexpected. After a hard winter, it became clear that we had to replace more damaged windows. My husband still refers to them as lipstick. 
But I was gobsmacked by the change. 

Here's a "before" photo, right after the pretty patio furniture was removed.

And here is an "in progress" photo. The pink awing will be removed, and we've got to figure out what to do with the metal roof. My GC says that it can be painted for now. 

The doors are higher, too, level with the windows.

The window in the master bath was in good shape, so our Marvin rep removed the hardware and ordered three individual windows with grilles--and popped them into the existing frame. 

I hope we can do this with the other windows! In some cases, we may be
able to add new grilles.

An upstairs sliding casement window was replaced. After much research, we opted for Marvin's Integrity line.

So cute!

Here, it looks as if the pink-beige house has been repainted, but it's just a trick of light. 
A nice trick of light! Too bad the color can't be found in a fan deck.

The plate glass windows and casements in the guest room were replaced, too.

A peek at the front elevation.

This is how the side elevation looked yesterday. Total cuteness. The clad trim was matched to BM White Dove.
I would love to put shake everywhere, but that's not in the cards. Too, the side elevation is sort of hidden by trees. We can paint the bricks; mortar washing is another option. But picking a color for the bricks is risky because the shake will weather--the eventual color is anyone's guess.

Without hesitation, I set up an appointment with a color consultant at the Benjamin Moore store.

 One thing I know for sure: I love the shake on the front elevation, and I can't wait to see how it looks on the wings.

That leaves the rear elevation. Shake may transform this area. I also like the idea of mixing materials, such as adding dry-stacked stone to the round sun room. The other option is to paint or mortar wash the side and rear elevations. And just hope that I choose a paint color for the brick that will work with the shake.
Again...decisions, decisions.

We're on an end-of-July deadline to finish the interior: I made decisions every few days. The floors were refinished and a stain was chosen.

The laundry room was planned and counter tops were selected (not granite, not marble--they may be installed next week). Marble was installed on the island.
Light fixtures were ordered. (Poor Bandwidth opened the rear hatch of the Jeep, and a box filled with sconces flew out--the fixtures smashed, and Bandy felt pretty shattered, too.) We hit a speed bump in the master bath, and the lovely wallpaper had to go. Choosing a paint color that worked with crema marfil marble wasn't for the faint-hearted.

BM White Dove (top) was harsh and BM Natural Cream (below) turned gray.

From another angle, the tile looks so neutral, so innocent.

 From left: RH Silver Sage (too dark), BM Albescent (too yellow), BM Pale Almond.
Everyone loves Pale Almond. Just to be sure, we're painting a larger sample; however, my basic trim color, BM Simply White, "simply" may or may not work. So we're trying White Dove, also.

Decisions, decisions.

Because the project is moving rapidly, I can't dither too long. 
I'd had my heart set on operable shutters, but I wasn't sure how they would look on the burger. My GC put up a mock shutter. It couldn't be operable due to the size of the window, not that I'd ever close the shutters. It was 18" wide (operable would be bigger).

Even with the scaled down size, I thought we needed a little more breathing room between the chimney and windows. But it would work.

Then I looked at the other wing. The space between the windows and chimney are smaller, and the shutters would be a tight fit.

Considering that the house is far from the road, I wondered if the shutters would even be noticed. Worse, would they make the windows look too large? Would the wings seem too crowded--windows, chimney, shutters, trim, shake?
With so much uncertainty, I couldn't pull the trigger. Shutters are expensive. And if they're wrong, there's no going back.

"More lipstick on a pig," my husband said.

I had my doubts, too, so we decided to wait until the shake has been installed. One small change can take a project in a new direction.  Sometimes, even when you are pressured, it's smart to take a moment.

In the meantime, I found a photograph of a classic shake house, and it had simple white trim--no shutters. My GC put up a sample yesterday. I loved it. It will eventually be painted BM White Dove. The cedar column (below, far left) will not be painted. A stone base will go beneath the shake, over the existing brick.

Soon we will be living here. And while I'm not much for decorating, I can totally see a climbing rose growing up the chimneys. I see overflowing tubs of petunias, my concrete rabbits, and the stone gargoyle. 

String lights in the pergola will make me smile.

And I know just the right spot for my Adirondacks. These old, much-loved chairs will make the burger into a home.

Thanks for spending a little time in my corner of the world.


  1. Oh I think you have a fabulous decor sense of style. I am loving seeing it all come together.

  2. You must be getting so excited to finally be moving in is turning out more beautiful than I first thought possible. Sorry you weren't able to save the bath wallpaper, it was gorgeous.
    Enjoy the weekend.

  3. Choosing colors is always the hardest part, especially when you have to coordinate with something already there. I think the windows and shake make a great difference. You don't give yourself enough credit on the decorating issue. You know what you love---choose that and you can't go wrong!

  4. I agree with Marty you have a great sense of style. Everything you have done is looking terrific and the views of the mountains are breathtaking. Thanks for the tour and I look forward to seeing the end result. You will have the best looking home in the area.
    Have a great weekend.

  5. I really enjoy your updates. I know you put so much thought in your choices. They always look perfect in the end.

  6. Your new home has so many good points like the pool, man cave, pergola, etc. and I see your contractors are doing a lot of improvements for you.

  7. All will be gorgeous! I have no doubt. How funny...lipstick on a pig. I don't think your ranch is a pig at all! Decorate with the things you love. Let it happen over time. Rushing to decorate can sometimes lead to choices you later wish were different. I have learned from experience! Ha!

  8. I would feel inundated too! You really should cut yourself some slack for all that you've been through and the myraid decisions that you've made. It will be a beautiful home and, hopefully, you'll soon be able to put it all behind you and just enjoy it. My advice is always to go with your instincts and don't second guess yourself. Poor Bandy, it could easily happen to all of us.

  9. Hi Sweetie Pooh! You not really a decorator? What? You sure have fooled me. :) I'm so excited about your new windows. They change really makes a difference. Wish I could get new windows. We had grills on all of our windows and took them off (we're the only house in the neighborhood without grill) but they were 'plastic' and some were broken and just looked awful. I never even thought of looking for replacements. Your house is just getting more beautiful each time you share an update. You shouldn't question yourself, you have impeccable taste! Hope you're having a nice Father's Day weekend.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  10. You're getting there, ML! Lots of great stuff happenin' over there!

    You are going to love it!!!!!

  11. You have an amazing sense of style. I've been amazed at the projects you've done to transform this house and the other one. I'd say you have vision! Exciting that the move in date is so soon. Pressure! Always good to get things moving to the finish line.
    Our move has taken a detour, not buying the townhouse, and now considering a different one. It's all a daunting process.
    Good luck with the completion of this project and the move in.

  12. You are a stronger person than I am. :-D I can't imagine taking on the renovation projects that you have.
    Judging from the pics of where you live now, you will do just fine decorating.
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend.
    Left a comment earlier, but don't think it went thru so this may be a duplicate.

  13. Great bones and with your style pulling it all's going to be amazing! Such fun following along.

  14. You always make great choices. Perhaps you over think and worry too much but in the end you choose well! The shake siding will look wonderful with stacked stone. I kind of doubt you need shutters especially since you are adding the shake siding. The marble slab in the kitchen on the island looks wonderful! I meant to tell you on a previous post that I cut my Annabelle hydrangeas right down short each year. I was told to do so at the garden center and it never fails the plant comes alive and blooms each year. We live far up north and have hard winters but it doesn't phase the Annabelle so don't be afraid to cut it down in the fall. Hugs, Liz

  15. Absolutely beautiful, excellent choices everywhere - what a lovely home.

  16. Wowza-you have been busy with lots of decisions! Looks like you have been making the right ones. We just finished a major addition/remodel and I had to design and make all the decisions the entire way through so I know haw tiring it can be--cant wait to see it all done!

  17. Renovating can be so stressful, but usually you will be so happy when all is done. I love the way everything looks so far- just beautiful

  18. Michael, it appears everything is coming together beautifully! Love, love the kitchen island and can hardly wait for the entire reveal of the space. Re the question of shutters; for what it is worth I feel the trim finishes the windows off perfectly. Last but not least regarding the paint colour for the brick; from what I have read, colours always appear three to four times lighter once applied to the exterior of the home than they do on the paint chip. So you may wish to keep that in mind plus if your shakes are cedar they will probably weather to a gray which in turn will pick up a colour that is in your multi-colour stone (that is usually considered 'fixed' or doesn't change). -Brenda-

    1. Brenda, that's a great idea about drawing inspiration from the stone. And thanks for the tip about the colors appearing lighter. I've looked at my fan decks, and if we try to match the shake, we're getting into peach territory (in a few cases). I noticed on Houzz that many shake homes have a Cabot stain. I guess that's a good way to coordinate the color scheme (though it requires upkeep--more staining every few years). I prefer the natural, weathered look, myself. I must say...from the road, the house doesn't look one bit different. LOL

    2. Michael, re my suggestions (and they are only that ... ☺), you are very welcome. Regarding your bathroom; if you are looking for a beige that will pick up a hint of pink found in your Crema Marfil Marble which I suspect it has; BM HC Shaker Beige will do it provided your space has plenty of natural light, otherwise it will look more yellow. As for a companion trim; I have seen both BM OC 10 White Sand or BM OC 85 Mayonnaise paired with and both looked gorgeous. HAPPY DECORATING & PAINTING! -Brenda-

    3. I forgot about Mayonnaise! You're right--the bath has French doors, the triple window over the tub, and a skylight. I want to avoid painting the vanities, if possible. BM Pale Almond _looked_ close, but as you know, it's impossible to tell with such a tiny swatch. I'm painting a larger sample before I decide. The ceiling is grass cloth, and it's gray...I want to keep the paper. (I've read that grass cloth can be painted.) DH's bath has a crema marfil floor--he picked it, which dictated the CM in the shower. The black painted vanity he bought for the other house will go in his bath (a WC, actually). That room has a tiny window, and light is filtered through trees...everything looked yellow except Pale Almond (but it was a tiny swatch). Thanks for your help! I enjoy talking to you about paint colors. The rest of the house has been a piece of cake, paint wise. I should have known that CM would be difficult!

  19. Everything is coming together beautifully since I last had an opportunity to catch up on your remodeling. We're looking at replacing old seventies windows too, but ours will have to be hurricane windows. We have 4 sliders and that those are really going to set us back. Tell me again why did I love all of those sliders...........I must have had on blinders not to recognize how much it would cost to replace them.Hmm.

  20. Choosing paint colors is so hard... it all depends on the light in the room! I read somewhere that if you spend most of your time in the room, say, in the morning, you should choose your paint color when you're standing there in the morning. That way the paint looks the best when you're most likely to be in the room. That might help with colors? I, too, dream of working shutters! I love love love them!

  21. Michael, Everything you have chosen looks lovely. I noticed the note on the photo questioning choices for the metal roof. While copper does not look exactly like a painted metal roof it will weather to green. Sometimes it will just have that beautiful patina, but it also turns somewhat black and may have white streaks in it. The shakes and stone are rustic and would look perfect with some copper. I think the ranchburger is looking a little like a mountain cottage. Iris

    1. Iris, I agree! Copper would be perfect for the sun porch's roof. We're adding a few copper touches to the front elevation. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  22. I can't believe what a difference those windows can make! I love, love, love the shake!

  23. Love love the new windows, makes such a difference, now it looks classic not 70's

  24. Excited for you to soon be living in your Ranch! You mentioned your bunnies ,flowers and your Adirondack chairs...those are indeed what will make your house feel like home. I believe it's a Beauty too !!!

  25. So loving the updates, I can't hardly wait to see the final !HOORAH!....I've been slacking in blog-world, but so happy to visit here, brings joy and happiness.

  26. Absolutely lovely I love everything thanks for sharing....

  27. Thanks for sharing the ongoing process of the ranchburger, Michael Lee. I would be going crazy with all the decisions that must be made, and I so admire you for making them. I love the shakes and the new windows, and the new marble island. It's all going to be so worth it to have the gorgeous view. I can't wait to see the finished project.

  28. Your house is gorgeous! I love the way you're fixing it up. I love in a boring ol' ranch house so the least I can do is try and make it pretty on the inside. I do like to decorate! We need to replace all our windows too, but we also need a new furnace and AC, new siding, and a new front porch and sidewalk. That's just the outside. It all boils down to the almighty dollar. ;-)

  29. Isn't amazing how many decisions have to be made even when making basic changes. You are doing a great job, and as Marty said - you have a great design sense.

  30. With all that going on, I can't imagine having time to blog. You truly amaze me, Michael.

    I think your decisions about the ranch burger have been spot on. You're a great decorator, whether you realize it or not, my friend.


  31. wow, I'm totally in awe of all you're doing, it's just fabulous!!